Craven's Blair Witch Project
When her uncle and aunt die in a car accident, Rachel Bryant (Linda Blair) finds herself sharing her bedroom with her cousin Julia (Lee Purcell) who with no where else to go comes to live with them. But soon Rachel's nose is pushed out of joint when her parents constantly side with Julia over matters, she makes a play for Rachel's boyfriend Mike (Jeff McCracken) and when her horse has to be put down before a big competition Rachel is convinced it is Julia's doing. With everyone seeming to be against her Rachel starts snooping and finding evidence which leads her to suspect her cousin may be in fact a witch.
On a semi-irrelevant note to start with a fellow movie reviewer who always mocks me because I enjoy made for TV movies which he refuses to watch commented once on how much he enjoyed the Wes Craven movie "Summer of Fear" and then look red faced when I explained that it was originally called "Stranger in Our House" and was made for TV, getting a change of name when it was shown in cinemas in Europe. It isn't important but "Stranger in Our House" proves despite having some flaws that not all made for TV movies are weak and if they have a decent story and a committed crew they can be quite good.
Now as to "Stranger in Our House" there is plenty which is good about it with director Wes Craven really trying to make this better than a lot of made for TV movies. His pacing, styling and the camera work is all of a standard which is superior to most TV movies but not quite at the standard of the big screen. Then there is Linda Blair who appeared in a few TV movies during the 70s and brings with it a strong performance, similar to some of her other movies in the 70s but committed to the character. And then there is the storyline itself with Rachel beginning to think Julia is a witch whilst everyone else is on Julia's side.
But whilst there are some aspects to "Stranger in Our House" which are a lot better than you tend to get in made for TV movies there are other things which are typical. The acting is incredibly hit and miss with some of the actors prone to over delivery whilst others come across as stiff as a board. And then there is depth and whilst a thriller like this thrives on mystery some of the characters and some of the story needed more expanding on.
What this all boils down to is that "Stranger in Our House" is certainly an entertaining movie and the combination of a good story, Wes Craven and Linda Blair certainly contributes to why it remains an effective thriller. But whilst some things are good it still has various flaws which prevent it from being more than just good.